About Names: Wesley has worldly appeal as baby name

Wesley Crusher, Star Trek: The Next Generation

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his July 31st column, he looks at the history of the name Wesley.

Wesley is an English surname from several villages called Westley or Westleigh, meaning “western clearing.” Wesley is a given name because of John Wesley (1703-1791.) An Anglican priest who tried to reform the Church of England by promoting evangelical conversion, he ended up founding Methodism. Wesley was also an abolitionist and accepted women preachers.

In 1880, Wesley ranked 109th as a baby name. It plateaued between 151st and 171st from 1940 through 1975.

On Sept. 25, 1987, fantasy film “The Princess Bride” was released. Cary Elwes played Westley, farmhand turned pirate who’s killed by Prince Humperdinck, revived by Miracle Max and saves beautiful Buttercup from marrying the villain. In 1988, spelling Westley ranked 562nd, its highest ever.

Three days later “Star Trek: The Next Generation” premiered, with Wil Wheaton as teen Wesley Crusher (named after Gene Roddenberry, whose middle name was Wesley). Baby name Wesley ranked 92nd in 1987, highest since 1979.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Wesleys in history!